Bombay HC asks Haji Ali trust to pay Maharashtra govt mobile tower earnings
Mumbai city news: The trust had claimed that the above rule applied only to housing societies and not to a religious or charitable trustmumbai Updated: Jul 07, 2017 01:12 IST
The Bombay high court on Wednesday refused to grant any relief to Haji Ali Dargah Trust that had challenged the state’s notice asking it to pay Rs1.88 crore as dues from the income it had generated by allowing mobile towers on its premises.
Justice R G Ketkar was hearing a petition filed by Abdul Sattar Merchant of the Haji Ali Trust challenging the notice issued by the collector’s office in May this year. Justice Ketkar held that the notice and the consequent demand made by the collector’s office were authorised and valid.
The trust had moved HC seeking a stay on a notice that the collector issued to it earlier this month, asking it to cough up Rs1.88 crore, 50% of the revenue that it had generated from mobile towers.
As per the state’s counsel, Hiten Venegaonkar, an April 2005 state government notification mandates that in case one leases any space to cellular companies to install mobile phone towers or other equipment, one must pay 50% of the revenue generated to the state.
The trust, however, claimed in the high court that the above rule applied only to housing societies and not to a religious or charitable trust.
It claimed that though the land had been leased to the trust by the city collector’s office years ago, the lease terms placed no restriction on the user from letting out any part of the leased land.
It said that in 2009, the trust gave a small portion of the land on lease and licence to four cellular companies and the income generated is used by the trust for the benefit of the community at large.
Besides, the trust also argued that if the cellular towers were in breach of any rules then why must the state lay claim to any revenue generated by such breach in law.
Meanwhile, the state government and the collector’s office argued that the trust’s plea was not maintainable in the high court since the Mumbai Revenue Tribunal had jurisdiction over such matters.
The state also argued that if the court decided to hear the Trust’s plea, then it should go by the mandate, which directs petitioners to deposit 50% of the revenue as an interim measure.